Drafty Meeples

As you probably know, I go to London most months for a Playtest UK meetup, but there is also a monthly session in my nearest large town, Oxford. The events being on Sunday evenings tends to make them less convenient for me, but I've made a few of these over the last couple of years, and this week I managed another.

Unfortunately this session had only four of us in attendance, but with a little negotiation and planning, all of us managed to get one of our games played -- though one was a longer game and we only managed a partial run of that.

I forgot to take a photo of my game in play, so here's a pic of a 4-player setup at home.
I had a two-player game of Drafty Valley (which will need a new name at some time), which was enough to give a reasonable test of the changes I made since its last trip to the table.  The game ran for about 45 minutes, starting with a very short explanation of just the rules active with the initial setup, and learning the rest as they came up, which is my planned teaching method for the game. The first few rounds were a bit slow as the new actions cycled through, but things sped up a lot and after the first time through the action deck the game was flying along nicely.  We even ended up with a nice, fairly tense ending, which was pleasing -- though probably more by luck than design.

Overall the changes I made seem to have moved the game in a positive direction, but the game start is still a little slow in terms of getting things on the board. This was actually feedback I got from the previous playtest, but I didn't really address this time. I think that next time I might have everyone starting with a control cube on the board, which should accelerate the early stages quite a lot.  Other than that, I'm planning to run at least my next playtest with the same prototype and hopefully see how it looks with more than two players.

Incidentally, the paper-thin theme on the game and the general "get resources and swap them for money or more resource production" makes the game perilously close to the Eurogame cliché of "trading in the Mediterranean", but at this stage of my game design career, maybe that's not necessarily a bad thing. I've been explaining that the conceit of the game is that players are businessfolk in a corner of the kingdom, getting contracts from outside to develop the land in various ways, and that the objective is to fulfill certain key contracts and make as much money as you can while you do so, and that seems to fit just fine right now. Maybe I'll be able to come up with a more interesting thematic justification for everything later, but for now I'll just let it ride.

Other than Drafty Valley, I got to play a couple of others... One was ostensibly about investment and market manipulation, but is actually focused on negotiation, and does that very well once you get into it, and shows great potential, even though it's not a style of game I get on well with.  The other was an ambitious cooperative game about defending a village against ravaging monsters; the concept is great and the designer has made some absolutely charming character illustrations, but at the moment the gameplay seems a bit fiddly compared to what the game seems to want to be; if the designer can find his way through the complexities, this could end up being really great fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment